To the Editor:
Tom Howard 82, a pioneer in family ministry in the Diocese of Davenport, died March 9 in Redondo Beach, Calif. He and his wife, Marie, along with Father George Behan, brought Marriage Encounter to the Davenport Diocese.
Tom and Marie met Fr. Behan in 1969 at a Christian Family Movement Conference at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., where they attended a Marriage Encounter. (Their five children were attended to in a separate dorm at Notre Dame by Sister Barbara Kopel CHM.)
The first Marriage Encounter in the diocese was held in Ottumwa at Walsh High School in 1970. (Beds were rented and volunteers helped prepare and serve meals.) Ten couples, plus three nuns and three priests were in attendance with Tom and Marie as lead couple and Fr. Behan as spiritual director.
Among those attending that first encounter were Howard and Arlene Konrady, Fairfield; Tom and Peg Lazio, Ottumwa; John and Rita Daniel, and Jerry and Marilyn Simpson, Davenport; Sister Barbara Kopel, CHM; and Father Vitolds Valainis and Father Ron Schmitz. These people became presenters and leaders with the Howards in the movement.
Hundreds of couples participated in Marriage Encounter through the next 35 years. National Marriage Encounters are no longer presented in the diocese.
Tom is survived by his wife Marie; their children: Ann, Tim, Beth, Michael and Patrick; and five grandchildren. A funeral Mass was celebrated at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Burial will be at a later date.